Tun­ing in to help sick chil­dren

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SHEL­LEY GRECO

Ra­dio Lol­lipop has brought mu­sic to the ears of chil­dren in hos­pi­tals around the world for more than 30 years.

And the vol­un­teers who keep the sta­tion run­ning at Star­ship Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal say they al­ways leave their shift with a smile on their face.

‘‘It’s an ab­so­lute priv­i­lege to be with chil­dren and their fam­i­lies at a time that is quite rough for them,’’ Ra­dio Lol­lipop chair­woman and vol­un­teer An­gela Mackie says.

Ra­dio Lol­lipop was started by Hed­ley Finn and Dave Glass in the UK in 1979 at St Mary’s Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren in Sur­rey.

It has ex­panded to boast sta­tions in nu­mer­ous hos­pi­tals through­out the UK, New Zealand, Amer­ica and Aus­tralia.

A team of trained and ded­i­cated vol­un­teers visit chil­dren in the wards to pro­vide one-on-one play and en­ter­tain­ment.

The sta­tion at Star­ship was es­tab­lished 21 years ago and now has a team of 130 vol­un­teers, aged be­tween 18 and mid-60s.

The chil­dren can tune into the ra­dio sta­tion, call the stu­dio, make re­quests and shout outs.

If they are able, they can visit the stu­dio and par­tic­i­pate in ac­tiv­i­ties in Star­ship’s atrium.

Mrs Mackie has been a vol­un­teer for eight years and loves nothing more than spend­ing an evening on the wards after a hard day at work.

‘‘I love it. This can be the only bit of fun or nor­mal­ity that [the chil­dren] get.

‘‘You al­ways leave with a smile on your face.’’

Ra­dio Lol­lipop is hold­ing a quiz night in Novem­ber as part of its an­nual fundrais­ing and it hopes to raise $20,000.

Funds raised will go to­wards re­fur­bish­ing and mod­ernising the stu­dio, in­clud­ing pur­chas­ing a new lap­top and equip­ment to dig­i­talise the sta­tion’s cat­a­logue of mu­sic.

‘‘We want to make it more in­ter­est­ing for the chil­dren,’’ Mrs Mackie says.

‘‘We just want to make it more mod­ern and the par­ents love it. It’s good to have some peo­ple in­ter­ac­tion.’’

Mrs Mackie says there are two im­por­tant fac­tors in de­cid­ing to be­come a Ra­dio Lol­lipop vol­un­teer.

‘‘You have to love kids and got to have fun.’’

Photo: SHEL­LEY GRECO

High note: Ra­dio Lol­lipop vol­un­teers Sa­hear Dab­bour, left, An­gela Mackie, Sarah Fin­ni­gan-Walsh and Sandie Chu en­joy work­ing with the young­sters at Star­ship.

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